The new rule, announced Friday, requires mine operators to increase the availability of emergency breathing devices, improve training on the use of the devices, improve emergency evacuation and drill training, install lifelines for emergency evacuation, and immediately notify MSHA in the event of an accident.
“These new requirements are an integrated approach to providing proper guidance to miners and mine operators during emergency situations," assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health Richard E Stickler said.
“The new rule adds additional protections for miners and provides them with more tools to survive a mining accident should one occur."
Earlier this year, MSHA issued a rare emergency temporary standard (ETS) aimed at protecting miners by helping them to evacuate an underground mine in the event of an emergency.
MSHA held public hearings on the ETS following its publication in the Federal Register, which was backed up by the issuance of the new, permanent rule today.
Other requirements of the new rule include:
- Additional self-contained self-rescue (SCSR) devices for persons in underground coal mines in working places, on mantrips, in escapeways, and where outby crews work or travel;
- Submission of a revised training plan and a revised program of instruction for improved training on SCSRs – including a new requirement for annual SCSR expectations training (training in smoke or simulated smoke and breathing through a realistic training unit);
- Improved quarterly emergency mine evacuation training, including a drill;
- Installation of lifelines; and
- Additional multi-gas detectors to alert miners as to when to don SCSRs.
One of the more significant results of the new rule is the establishment of only one phone number for use in reporting mine accidents within 15 minutes after it is known an accident has occurred.
All mine operators, including operators of metal and nonmetal mines, must call 1 (800) 746-1553 to report mining accidents within the required time limit.
Additional information, including the full text of the new rule, can be found at www.msha.gov